Recently there's been an increase in the number of climbers travelling un-roped. This includes climbers ascending the Emmons glacier to Camp Schurman, coming off rope as they descend the corridor, and even travelling off rope for their entire ascent of the upper mountain. This is extremely ill-advised! Significant hazards are always present in these areas. With warmer temperatures, the odds of punching through into an unseen crevasse are even higher.
Crevasse falls are surprisingly more common than you would think. Some parties experience a crevasse fall and a party member gets injured, but they are able to self-rescue back to the surface. This type of scenario will still trigger a rescue because the patient can no longer walk out. More often, the party does not have the skills (or enough people) to effectively get the party member out of the crevasse. Many parties think they have trained, but find once the crevasse fall happens in real life, they don't have the equipment or skill or the number of people they need to get their party member out. Also, imagine when you’re tired, sleep deprived, have cold fingers, and the wind ripping around you AND THEN having to deal with a partner in a crevasse. On your ascent, you should always keep the crevasse fall potential in mind and have enough of a energy and safety margin to deal with it.
Climbing rangers wish that they could pass the tragic lessons on to you that many other parties have learned over the years. One of our ranger’s first body recovery due to a crevasse fall was in 1992 (that’s 30 years ago!) on the Emmons Glacier. The surviving member of the party wrote a book about his experienced title The Ledge. And this party was roped up! During the subsequent three decades there’s been scores of other tragedies and near misses due to climber’s not being prepared to deal with a crevasse fall. Please take this hazard seriously!
|Climbers next to the crevasses right below Camp Schurman on the Emmons - roping up is advised here.|
The climbing rangers have had a serious rescues off the upper mountain almost every week. Crevasse falls are a major cause of these rescues. Please think about removing these commons errors from your scenario that will keep you from falling in in the first place.
Please rope up while on glaciers! It is always the crevasse that you’re not planning on falling into that causes the most problems.